Election candidates say they will improve conditions for overworked GPs

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Fareham and Waterlooville General Election Candidates at hustings
The candidates at the hustings: (left to right), Kevan Chippindall-Higgin, Suella Braverman, Gemma Furnivall, Bella Hewit, Edward Dean

The candidates vying to represent the people of Wickham, Knowle and Denmead in Parliament have explained how they would tackle the worsening issue of ‘disenchanted’ GPs.

General election hopefuls for the newly-created Fareham and Waterlooville constituency were asked how they would improve the lives of GPs during a hustings event hosted by Wickham and Knowle Parish Council held on Friday.

Former GP Simon Wernick asked the panel: “Many GPs who are still working are feeling disenchanted with their professional lives and most would leave if they could. Demand is so great that they rarely feel able to spend time with each patient that they would like. All attempts to improve this worsening situation have failed so far. Do you have thoughts and suggestions?”

Conservative Suella Braverman who has represented the area since 2015 and had a majority of 26,086 in 2019, said GPs have been in her “inbox for many years.”

She said: “You’ve asked about the workforce and quality of life for GPs. The government has recently announced a long-term workforce plan for the NHS, looking comprehensively at how we provide the long-term needs for general practice in total, ensuring a pipeline of doctors coming through.”

She said she has personally raised the issue of local GP supply with the health secretary and added: “As a result, we’ve gone to National Health England and the integrated care board (ICB) to put an action plan in place to ensure with new development and the challenges facing the local community there is a plan and funding for resources going forward.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Bella Hewit said: “There are £7 million plus people on waiting lists and we need to get them back to health. The Liberal Democrats will employ 8,000 more GPs and make sure the public get an appointment with a GP within seven days.” 

She said her party would do this by reducing GPs’ admin level. She said we have to be realistic about the huge damage the current government had done and the money spent fighting the front-line staff post covid that could have gone into increasing their pay instead. 

Ms Hewit said: “If you vote Conservative, you are voting to end the NHS.”

Rejoin EU candidate Edward Dean said that in Spain there are a lot of things that other healthcare professionals, such as pharmacists, can diagnose and treat and suggested he would introduce a system to do that, and in turn that would give GPs more time to spend with patients. 

The Reform UK candidate Kevan Chippindall-Higgin said there are a lot of young people who cannot get a place at medical school. To help get more doctors trained he said he would offer practical cash incentives by suspending income tax for three years. He said during their training Reform UK would pick up the tab and in return, they would promise to stay working in the NHS for 10 years. 

Gemma Funival, a Labour representative on Fareham Borough Council and the party’s candidate for the constituency in Thursday’s General Election, said GPs say to her that they are being asked to do more for less. She said she also hears there are fewer GPs but more patients.

She said Labour had a huge focus on prevention in healthcare by keeping the population well, adding: “Providing 8,500 mental health professionals in our schools should immediately mean that families are not at the front door of doctors seeking help they can’t get.”

According to the NHS, there are 36,428 full-time GPs (March 2023) – 440 more than in March 2022, and 1,909 more than December 2019.

Candidates Robert Holliday (Hampshire Independents) and Baz Marie (Green Party) were invited to the hustings but did not attend.

The full list of candidates for Fareham and Waterlooville is:

  • Suella Braverman – The Conservative Party
  • Kevan Chippindall-Higgin – Reform UK
  • Edward Dean – Rejoin EU
  • Gemma Furnivall – Labour Party
  • Bella Hewitt – Liberal Democrats
  • Robert Holliday – Hampshire Independents
  • Baz Marie – Green Party
Watch some of the hustings. Unfortunately the sound quality is poor.
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